S Sense

Washing up.

This morning I faced a pile of dishes stacked so high there was double brie on the ceiling.

Plates were stacked precariously one atop the other, each layer sandwiching a less than appetising filling like a half-eaten slab of barbecued haloumi cheese speared by a cake fork, stray bits of rocket salad, a lone anaemic vegetarian sausage and, um, a pack of cigarette papers.


Though a tower of unwashed plates, greasy cutlery, encrusted pans and stained wine glasses swaying in the glare of a new day can daunt big tough adults, its effect on children is positively dramatic. Hearts fill with dread; eyes fill with tears.

My son hated washing up so much he would do it very crappily, even breaking valuable heirlooms like the serving tray shaped like a gutted crab and the mug with breasts on it. (I miss that mug.)

One day after a newly washed pilsener beer glass (though still with bits of jatz and gherkin stuck on) slipped from his hands (some might say it was thrown), I reached breaking point.

I banned him from washing up ever again. I think that taught him. Sometimes you have to be tough.

I have just tackled one of the largest washing up challenges ever set before modern man. Im in the Hunter Valley visiting friends and my hosts had a few people over for dinner and drinks.

Judging from the stack this morning, everyone must have used three plates, a bowl, four parfait spoons, two forks, a knife, two coffee mugs, a wine glass, a scotch glass, a vegemite glass, eight teaspoons and a breadboard. Each.

Though the pile was enormous, there were still glasses holding varying degrees of dregs spread about the lounge, kitchen, dining, verandah, barbecue, library and toilet areas.

(Theres something suggestive and mysterious about a half glass of cabernet merlot sitting elegantly on a toilet cistern.)

Still, with an empty mind (vodka can do that) I started with the cheese knives. Washing up is a meditation.

Washing up is always the second thing on my daily to do list. (The first is get up. Its inspiring to get something crossed off early.)

Its a daily ritual. Like going to church. There were dregs of wine and bits of bread. I squinted at a wine glass and remembered the person who got nailed. (He hasnt risen from the dead yet.)

The sink water slowly turned to wine as I washed endless glasses.

The sun rose and set.

The hot soapy water washed away our transgressions like God scouring sin. The lipstick on the champagne flute, the dead cigarette drowned in a bowl of hummus, the condom in the teapot. All was forgiven. Purity restored.

Everyone needs to wash up. Take responsibility. Start afresh.

I believe that all the trouble in the world can be traced to one insidious technological invention. The dishwashing machine.

You want world peace? Make the world leaders wash up. And take responsibility.

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